Practical Wisdom and the Ethic of Care in Probation Practice

    by:
  • Marilyn J Gregory (Dept of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, Elmfield Building, Northumberland Road, SHEFFIELD, S10 2TU. Email: m.j.gregory@sheffield.ac.uk)

In 2003 the author interviewed 15 experience probation officers from one probation area about the nature of their work as probation officers. These participants had trained in an earlier ‘clinical mode’ of practice, when rehabilitation was to the fore and casework methods were still enshrined in practice. Now they found themselves in a ‘punitive managerialist’ mode of practice. The study found that the participants, through the use of their skills as reflective practitioners, resisted the worst excesses of punitive managerialism and continued to practice in a way that balanced the demands of justice and care. This article looks at their commitment to the worker-client relationship and suggests that it is consonant with an approach to probation practice based upon the desistance paradigm, which in turn fits within a restorative justice framework for criminal justice practice.

Keywords: Ethic of care, Ethic of justice, Phronesis, Practical wisdom, Reflective

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